City Research Online

At War with Themselves: Coronavirus, Commodification and Conspiracy

Seymour, D. ORCID: 0000-0001-6736-937X (2020). At War with Themselves: Coronavirus, Commodification and Conspiracy (City Law School Research Paper 2020/14). London, UK: City Law School, City, University of London.


This paper discusses the connection state responses to coronavirus and the emergence of conspiracy theories.

The first section of this paper argues that the dominant response to society’s confrontation with coronavirus was by integrating it within political economy’s framework of social and legal relations that reduces ‘nature’ to a commodity; that is, a species of private property freely exchangeable with its market competitors. The paper moves on to discuss the connection between commodification and conspiracy theory in which the concept of (individual and collective) sacrifice takes centre stage. However, unlike other instances of commodification, where social survival rests on humanity adapting to the commodification, at stake here is nothing less that physical survival. It is the intense anxiety brought about by this shift that accounts for the equally intense outbursts of recent conspiracy thinking about the virus.

The paper concludes by placing these developments within the specific context of current political and social developments, most notably, the ascendancy of populism.

Publication Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Additional Information: Copyright 2020, the author.
Publisher Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus, Conspiracy, State, Market
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR355 Virology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
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